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tv   Tech Know  Al Jazeera  January 5, 2015 2:30pm-3:01pm EST

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a nearby farm, has been caught on camera pacing in front of other vehicles. the bird safely returned home to its owners. and more for you any time on our website, the address is, watch live. a unique way. this is a show about science by scientists. let's check out the team of hard-core nerds. specialising in ecology and evolution.
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rhinos have been hunted to near extinction. it's illegal and deadly black market trade. >> a specimen like this could sell for close to $400,000. back. >> finance is squared back. >> hunting the hunters. >> rhinos are gone, i think. kosta grammatis is an engineer that designed everything from satellites through space to bionic eyes. tonight he goes one on one with a bot. forget about football, meet the science squad. kids from a las vegas turning heads around the world. 'm an entomologist. that's the team. let's do some science. hey, guys, welcome to "techknow", i'm phil torres, joined by marita davison, and
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kosta grammatis. marita, you met a man who spent years as a crime scene investigators for human victims. now he and his lad is taking on the fourth largest industry in the world, it's a tragic. >> yes, we think of forensics dealing with human victims, we don't think of it as a bird. it's a wildlife services add, taking on the illegal trade in endangered species problem. >> some lines are extinct. how big is the industry. >> in terms of economic value, a $19 billion industry. techknow had an inside look at the c.s.i. forensic lab. >> reporter: the world's animal kingdom is under siege. since
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1970 animal populations declined on average by half, according to estimates by the world wildlife fund. a big driver is wildlife trafficking. illegal trade in wildlife is a big global business, worth at least $19 billion a year. that makes it the fourth largest criminal industry in the world. right behind drugs, counterfeiting and human trafficking. it's been connected to organised qaeda. >> the rhinoceros, one of the world's iconic creatures is devastated by the black market trade. less than 30,000 remain in the wild, down from ago. >> rhinos are on the cusp of extinction. >> joseph is from the u.s. attorney general's office. >> the fact is with wildlife, if
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you get caught you see a slap on the wrist or a small crime. if you traffic cocaine and are caught, you do to prison for a long time. >> reporter: in 2012 he prosecuted jimmy and felix, a los angeles father and son team, suspected of smuggling millions of rhino horns. it was part of the operation crash, a nationwide crack down on rhino trade. it was destined for south africa, where rhino powder is thought to cure cancer. >> what was important was the wildlife trafficking between jim and felix carr, and the direct rise in murders, killings in the wilds of south africa. >> what crime lad do you turn to when the victim has four legs, and all you have is a severed horn? this one.
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the wildlife lab in oregon. >> digits two and three on the white foot... >> reporter: it's the world's only crime lab invited to wildlife. it investigates cases for the u.s., and other countries, relating to the convention on international trade. a treaty known as cites. >> our job is to speak to the evidence. >> ken is the lab director. he built it from scratch after a crimes. >> how would you say your work now is different from the work investigator. >> police work is competitive. here, we are making a difference. we can save species. we are pushing the envelope. >> the science starts when a package arrives. with it questions from a u.s. fish and wildlife field agent. often the first one is "what is
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it?" in the case of a horn smuggled by the carr, the first question was "are they rhino?", this horn is made of keratin, the same stuff your fingernail is made of. on the black market it's more valuable than gold or platinum. a specimen like this could sell for close to $400,000. determining the species could impact the penalty. some are more critically endangered, like black rhinos, wild. >> what are we looking at? >> the horns from the left are from a black rhinoceros, and on the right from a white. rhinoceros horns are unique. there's a big one. if you look at the base, there's not a hollow center. the skull itself has like a boney round portion and the horn sits on top of that boney
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portion of the skull. >> how would you determine one species of rhino from another by looking at the hornings? >> the one on the left is round in the front. you can see that. flatter. >> this one is scared off here, difference. >> what if your evidence looks like this. >> then you get carved objects, it's difficult. you do not have any other landmarks characteristic of the rhino orn. >> this is the deputy director of the lab, and runs the chemistry unit. >> there's a lot of plastics that resemble rhino horn, so our job is to look at the signatures and find out if it's made of rhinoceros keratin or plastic. >> once you have a positive idea next? >> we get it to d.n.a.
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>> mary runs the genetics unit. &tracting dn -- extracting d.n.a. from a victim is one of the jobs. >> it ranges from caviar, pieces of meat, or matching a gut pile in the woods to blood on a car freezer. >> it's huge. world. >> in this case the lab had to analyse the d.n.a. of 25 horns wildlife. >> we go in, and drill out close to the core of the horn. it's the closest material to what was going. >> we obtain tissue, crush it up and put it into a liquid that is a detergent that breaks down. >> how much harder is it to extract d.n.a. from something like a horn than it would be from a living animal. >> the d.n.a. is in the harder matrix, you have to get the d.n.a. out of the cells, but you
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areas. >> the d.n.a. abstracted is compared with known samples at the lab. it's known as a noah's ark. >> the freezers behind us are tissues. there's tissue, egg, bone, it's the sauce material for getting the d.n.a. >> the lab identified 37 horns trafficked as rhinoceros. it's one victory in the battle to save them. in 2013 alone. poachers killed more than 1,000 rhinos, a record high, and whopping 50% increase over the previous year. >> people have to understand what danger the creatures are in. rhinos are gone. i don't think they stand a chance. they are worth too much. how do you deal with that? >> reporter: coming
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up, the carrs plead guilty, but does the punishment amount to more than a slap on the wrist?
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>> reporter: rhinos are being hunted to extinction. defenseless against a crime that values the animals horns more than the species itself. here at the lab that could come out of c.s.i. the tv show, here they are helping to put traffickers behind bars. the lab analysed dozens of coins in a swimming case against jimmy and felix carr. they were among thousands of its the lab investigates, all to
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protect wildlife. on this day the doctor is conducting an autopsy on a golden eagle submitted by a field agent. >> often the animals are found dead, and that's the history that we have. we have to use skills, knowledge and senses to figure out what went on before the animal died. extending from the right side of the test and down the medial aspect of the right leg is a tract of feather singeing. >> that suggests the cause of death was electrocution, possibly by a power line. in these photographs taken under a special forensic yellow light, the singed parts glow orange. proof that the bird was electrocuted. even bones can unravel mysteries, like the bear skull. >> the character of the hole
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through the skull, that it was bevelled on one side, and not as bevelled on this side. and the fact that this bone is discoloured around it. >> i can see that for sure. >> it's more indicative that that is a gunshot wound. >> reporter: if the bones are needed as evidence in court, the body is skeletonized not by a lab technician, but nature's own cleaning crew. the lab's colony of flush-eating beatles can strip a carcasses clean in a matter of days. you are dealing with kind of the gory details here. do you find yourself being personally impacted by what you see on the table? >> when i see something that indicates that there was suffering prior to death, and they are slowly wasting away and starving, that's when it gets a little hard. if i just think of everything as
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a stuffed animal, if you will, it makes it a little easier. >> the shock is the few times i have seen the animals grievously harmed, but not dead. the horn ripped off the rin oserrous, but it's alive and moving around, that enrages me. i know that if i can keep this lab team right down the line, unbiased, good science, we'll help to take down the bad guys over and over again. the wildlife investigators will have us behind them, that's what we need to be. >> operation crash is not about the poacher, but the middleman. oftentimes we find specimens where the rhino has been long dead. why do we want to bring those guys to justice? >> first of all, we want the trade stopped. i did make that cocaine in bolivia, we just transported
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it - it's the only way to stop the killing. that's what we have to do. >> jimmy and felix carr pleaded guilty to five felonies to smuggling rhino horns. they were sentenced to more than three years in prison and thousands in fines. john sees a links between their conspiracy, and the address in rhino deaths. >> if there's no profit, poachers don't go into the wild. the fact that jimmy and felix helped to create the market, made them morally culpable. for those people, it will purchase rhino horns. it would suggest that they have blood on their hands. >> do you think the sentence and fine is enough to send a message to the rest of the people in the industry that they shouldn't be doing it. >> in my opinion i don't think it's relative to the scale and magnitude.
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this is a huge industry, a big problem. if we are going to deter this activity, the penalties need to be a lot stronger. >> you hear the big bus for criminal activity or drugs, but you don't hear a lot about the industry. rhino horn is literally like equivalent to a fingernail. >> it's keratin. >> i couldn't believe the value hand. >> i know. >> that is unbelievable that something to meaningless can sell for so much funny, and cause so much strife. >> i think that's the crux of the the issue here. is that folks at the for examplics lab -- forensics lab, they are trying to make the activities have serious consequences. that's one way to get at the problem. the other way is to take way the value that the its have for society. it's a bigger issue to tackle. that's the only way to make a difference.
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keep in mind this forensics lab is the one and only in the world, the one and only. >> $19 billion industry, and we are throwing one forensic lab at the problem. you can catch 20 people a year. is that nearly enough to scratch of the surface? >> no. >> you guys, moving on to something that is tragic to something that is hopeful and fun. you have to play fridays by with the rob o. >> designed by high schoolers, this los angeles team got go all the way to china, but they are robots. it's a call story. we'll check it out after break. >> pain killer addiction on the rise >> i loved the feeling of not being in pain >> deadly consequences >> the person i married was gone >> are we prescribing an epidemic? >> the last thing drug companies wanted anybody to think was that, this was a prescribing problem >> fault lines al jazeera america's hard hitting... >> today they will be arrested... >> ground breaking... they're firing canisters of gas at us...
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welcome back to techknow, i'm phil torres, joining me is marita davison, and kosta grammatis. for all of us being a scientist required one important thing when we were younger, and that was a mentor. i know for me it paved the way to being an intoe meteorologist. >> me to. i had -- intoe mollo gift. >> me two, i had mentors. >> i was in an electronic store hanging out with the owner gadgets. >> that was it for you. >> after high school. >> you recently went to las vegas, to meet a mentor and his team of high schoolers. vegas. >> i can't tell you everything that happened in vegas, but i will tell you that the kids at a high school there have invented invariable robots competing across the country and they travelled to china to bring the robots there as well.
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it's amazing. let's check it [ singing ] >> reporter: there may be high level rivalries between united states and china. but on this day in china, there's nothing of it between the two countries. >> they helped and showed how to get a good team work. >> it's about growing together. it's about helping everyone do what they can at the best of their ability. i think this is something that everyone can learn from. >> young people from china and the united states working side by side sharing a common interest in robots. the team from las vegas, the 987 high rollers, were invited to
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share their expertise with chinese students. >> you think they'd be more advanced than us and technology. it's not a thing that they had. we went over there and control them. and see what they need to run teams like this. >> it's cool to bring something that we know well and bring it here and introduce them to it. you can see their faces when they see something new. >> reporter: back in las vegas, at the high school, it's the love of technology in the robots that helped turn the lives of some american teams around. this is not some top tier high school. >> no, we are a title one school. 50% of our students are on free or reduced lunch. we are a turn around school. >> reporter: what does that mean turn around? >> it means to find out why the
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graduation rate is falling. when we got here, graduation was 51%, now it's 75%. >> reporter: programs like this is the reason? >> absolutely. these are great kids. >> this sent the bit through the material, destroying it. >> reporter: team 987 high rollers is a workshop where kids spend seven days a week times, building bots. schools grant sponsorships and they support the team and bring them 50,000 cnc machine. it fabricates parts about building robots. >> right now we are going conservative on the machine. >> for the pockets, it's a team. this team is every bit as popular and important as any
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other team on campus. the football team, the baseball team. it's on par with the athletics. >> reporter: like sports teams, they are proud of championships. the highly rollers brought in big teams. you turned down magnet schools to come to this school >> i think it was worth it. >> reporter: why. >> this team is unique in different ways, it has different machining equipment that no other school has access to, and mentors that are dedicated during and after school. and the best students from around the valley. >> reporter: success is due to stem education, science, technology, english and maths. different. intimidating. >> reporter: you wouldn't say. >> i wouldn't say it's intimidating. we run a lot. it's 50/50 for the guys and the
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girls. we work as hard as they do. >> what happens if you use the wrong g code? >> you crash the part. >> reporter: who gets more done? >> the girls do. . >> i started being around the shop, and i liked being around in the mechanical part of it. that's how i go into inteeng an engineer. -- being an engineer. >> on wednesday we say we'll learn to use the cnc machine, girls only. they know more than the guys. and when they know more than the intimidating. >> reporter: ladies night at the cnc machine. >> exactly. >> reporter: what is intimidating is the themselves. >> it's more sophisticated than a car. >> reporter: the level of sophistication is astounding. built in six weeks, they are designed to win, and they are built like tanks. they are programmed to complete a task.
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in this case, for fun. throwing frisbees at a certain techno contributor. what you notice about this generation, this class of student, are they more sophisticated for technological understand, and are they appreciate and is there a cultural shift going on. >> i think there's a cultural shift. when i was at high school, being suicide. >> reporter: today, students involved in this programme are graduating with honours, many universities. >> i'm thinking dismiss, a military academy.
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i'm interested with what the round. >> i'm looking at berkeley. >> i'd like to be a maths teacher, come back and help this, mentor. make a difference. >> what i love is that girls are front and center here, and they - i love that part. the team is a 50/50 split of boys and girls. they have literally been ladies nights with the robot. >> they took their knowledge to china, and got to share it and experience. >> they didn't know how to articulate what they saw and felt. it was awesome, the food was weird. and the number one thing that i - that was so powerful in that moment was how they talked about and made friends.
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they literally went to another country and were thrilled in finding a commonality. the chinese are no longer an elusive people, they are their friends now. >> i will it. robots bring people together. >> i love it. those are the moments that the show is about on techknow. we follow the science, wherever it takes us. if you want to see more, be sure to see more on techno. >> devastating climates... >> if we don't get rain we'll be in dire straits... >> scientists fighting back... >> we've created groundhog day here... >> hi-tech led farming... >> we always get perfect plants everyday... >> feeding the world... >> this opens up whole new possibilities... >> tech know's team of experts show you how the miracles of science...
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>> this is my selfie what can you tell me about my future? >> can effect and surprise us... >> don't try this at home... >> tech know where technology meets humanity only on al jazeera america >> there we go it's ok. look at that look! [laughs] >> [inaudible]. >> i don't believe it. >> what do you mean by saying that a baby loves its mother? >> hey. cute little thing. >> so what's her name gonna be? >> cami. camilena anna diaz, but it's cami for short.


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